What do all personality disorders have in common ?

If you or a family member have been diagnosed with a personality disorder, you may relate to this article. Please remember that your personality is not as concrete as you ar others may believe. Personalities are amenable to evolution and change ! You can do it, if you want to. The DSM5 lists ten specific personality disorders: paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, antisocial, borderline, histrionic, narcissistic, avoidant, dependent and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Despite being recognized as discrete diagnostic entities, there is a lot of overlap among the different disorders.

Here are 6 areas of dysfunction that are common among all personality disorders.

  • An Impoverished or intellectualizing narrative style
  • A limited sense of control over their lives.
  • Poor or unstable sense of self.
  • Recurring problematic mental states
  • Mal adaptive coping
  • Problems regulating mood states.

An Impoverished or intellectualizing narrative style

People with personality disorders and/or dysfunctional personality traits often experience a lot of difficulty in using episodes from their own autobiographies to explain their suffering and psychological problems to others. A lot of their statements often provide very little information about how the person is thinking. This can confuse friends and therapists alike.

A limited sense of control over their lives

The sense of agency refers to the subjective awareness of being inhabited by wishes, intentions and goals and of the ability to initiate, carry out and control actions aimed at achieving them. In those with personality issues there is often a difficulty in understanding internal sources of certain kinds of behaviour, they tend to view behaviour as a consequence of events outside of them.

Poor or unstable sense of self.

Those with problematic personality traits often tend to perceive external events as confirmatory of their beliefs and/or wishes/fears. Their self-image derives mostly from how they think they are perceived by the world.

If I were to question my own self worth, I may sometimes end up interpreting some neutral events as evidence for my own beliefs. For example someone with fears of abandonment might think “My boyfriend did not pick up my calls, that must mean I am not important”. For someone with an avoidant personality ” They laughed when I got on stage, they must think I am stupid”.

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